HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe coach Lalchand Rajput has welcomed the return of senior players to the national team as he prepares to take the side on away tours to South Africa and Bangladesh in the coming months.
Former India international Rajput was announced as the permanent head coach of the side on Friday having previously held the role in a caretaker capacity.
During that period, he had to make do with a depleted squad in a 5-0 home one day international series whitewash by Pakistan last month.
Zimbabwe were bowled out for just 67 in the third ODI and averaged only 151 runs with the bat in five completed innings in the series, having also been well beaten in a triangular involving Australia before that.
“To have a full squad will be excellent. They (senior players) will bring additional strength and confidence to the team. The likes of Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine – their coming back means a great deal,” Rajput said in a media release from Zimbabwe cricket.
The players had made themselves unavailable for selection in a protest over unpaid salaries, but the International Cricket Council has since stepped in to help the stricken union meet its outstanding debts.
“My aim is to build a stronger team and take Zimbabwe cricket to the next level and that is my biggest challenge,” Rajput added.
“I would like the team to play positive cricket, play hard and play to win.
“Hard work, team work, consistency, discipline and maintaining fitness levels would be my main focus areas.”
Zimbabwe will play three ODIs and three Twenty20 matches in South Africa starting on Sept. 30, before a further three ODIs in Bangladesh in October.
“South Africa and Bangladesh are among the toughest tours,” Rajput added. “But I think tough tours make you and the players even tougher. So with my experience I will make the players tough and to perform better in tough conditions.
“We have a two-month camp and one month is already gone, and we have really worked hard on our fitness. We have also worked hard on our skills – batting, bowling and fielding skills.
“That is the biggest challenge and I think we can make a difference in that. I am very excited to get on the road with this team.”
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge